Dismemberment of Pakistan

The 1971 war, led to the dismemberment of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh. Today Yahya Khan is remembered for two extraordinary developments, namely the elections of 1970 and the creation of Bangladesh.
In West Pakistan, it was it was Bhutto who led students, the working classes and sections of the newly emerging middle classes against Ayub.
Bhutto emerges as the dominant voice in West Pakistan opposing absolutism.
In East Pakistan, Maulana Bhashani spoke for the peasants of the province; it was Sheikh Mujib, who, after raising his Six-Point Programme in 1966 for democracy and greater provincial autonomy, was fast emerging as the main voice of Bengali nationalism.
Mujib, at this critical circumstance was still in favour of a united, democratic, federal Pakistan.
Yahya Khan announced elections for October 1970, doing away with the One Unit, giving the majority province on the basis of its population 162 seats in a parliament of 300.
Due to monsoon rains in East Pakistan the government postponed the elections by two months. The polls were announced for Dec 7.
Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League won 160 of the 162 seats in East Pakistan, giving it a majority in united Pakistan’s parliament.
Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party won 81 seats out of 138 in West Pakistan, becoming the majority party in West Pakistan, mainly from Sindh and Punjab.
Neither of the two largest parties won a single seat in the other wing. Electorally, Pakistan stood divided.
United Pakistan just might have been saved in these few weeks had bureaucratic leadership allowed the results of the 1970 elections to be honoured.
There has been a great deal written by scholars, on what happened in East Pakistan between March 25 and Dec 16, 1971.
The Americans at the time were courting Mao’s China and Pakistan mattered to them, for it was the conduit for what later became known as ‘ping-pong’ diplomacy. China, too, kept out of Pakistan’s “internal affairs”.
A pretty large number of non-Bengalis, mainly Biharis, were also killed by those who were part of the Mukti Bahini fighting their war of independence, and hundreds of thousands of East Pakistanis fled across the border into India.
Unfortunately this is not deliberately mentioned in our media when people still weeps at this peace time. Millions of refugees fled East Bengal with bare belongings in search of safety.
India launched a military attack on East Pakistan in November, with (West) Pakistan attacking Indian Territory on Dec 3.
Despite the fact that West Pakistanis were told as late as Dec 14 and 15 that they were winning the war, on Dec 16, 1971.
East Pakistan had now formally become Bangladesh. India helped East Pakistan become Bangladesh in the last few months of 1971.
The separation of East Pakistan was a great misfortune to Pakistan. By 1970, national unity had weakened in East Pakistan to the extent that continuous squabble between the two Wings burst into huge civil disorder.
The physical separation of a thousand miles between the two wings without a common border, and being surrounded by Indian territory and influences, led to constant political, economic and social disorder between the two wings.
As a result of the separation of its Eastern Wing, Pakistan suffered a lot. Our brothers the East Pakistanis were unable to extract the same kind of advantages, as they were a thousand miles away from the Capital.
There lived in East Pakistan about 15 million Hindus who were few pro Indians. With the help of their fellow West Bengali Indians from across the border, were able to exploit East-West differences.
Grievances were distorted to foster anti-West Pakistani feelings that finally created Bengali Nationalism and separatist tendencies
Nevertheless no effective measures were made by the Government to check these anti-national trends.
Awami League, formed in 1951, was headed by Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman. He had always been an ardent Bengali nationalist. He began to attract popular support from Bengalis in East Pakistan.
He put forward his Six Points that demanded more autonomy for the Provinces in general and East Pakistan in particular.
He was arrested in April 1966, and soon released, only to be rearrested and imprisoned in June the same year. He languished in prison until February 1969.
In all his election speeches, Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman reiterated his demand for implementation of his Six Points and provincial autonomy plans.
In this context the Awami League gained much sympathy and benefit out and Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman and his people were considered on the international scene as victims of West Pakistan’s indifference.
Efforts were made to reduce the differences between the two Wings. Mujib-ur-Rahman’s inflexible stand in support of his Six Points, and his proposal that East Pakistan should have a sovereign status independent of Pakistan, further worsened the situation.
Mujib-ur-Rahman launched a non-cooperation movement. The civil administration was totally paralyzed. All government and educational institutions were closed.
People were asked not to pay any taxes. The transport system came to a standstill. Factories and shops were shut.
All government activities between both the Wings ceased. The Awami League setup a parallel government.
Gangs of local Awami League freedom fighters, known as Mukti Bahini, led violent demonstrations and raised anti-West Pakistan slogans, inciting the people to more violence.
On March 23, the Republic Day of Pakistan, the Awami League declared “Resistance Day” and Bangladesh flags flew all over the Province. There was a great massacre. East Pakistan had reached a point of no return.
India launched an attack on East Pakistan on November 22, 1971. The collusion of Mukti Bahini and the Indian Army, made Pakistan’s military defeat in the East almost certain.
The surrender led to the disintegration of East and West Pakistan and the establishment of Bangladesh. After 25 years, the East Pakistanis declared independent and renamed their Province as Bangladesh.
Pakistan finally recognized Bangladesh at the Islamic Conference in Lahore on February 22, 1974.

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